‘Android Things’, which arrives as Google opens its annual conference for developers, could bring its Google Assistant virtual helper to refrigerators and robots and familiar designs to cash registers and vending machines.
“The goal is to enable them to be built faster, cheaper and more secure,” said Venkat Rapaka, a product management director at Google.
Android derivatives aim to provide users with a consistent interface across devices, while Google and its business partners benefit from a standard way to distribute their applications.
|A man walks through light rain in front of the Hey Google booth under construction at the Las Vegas Convention Center in preparation for the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo
Though Google does not charge hardware manufacturers for Android, it expects to generate a return as consumers use new gadgets to use search, watch videos on YouTube and buy content from its Play Store.
The Android operating system powers many of the world’s smartphones and drives consumers to Google’s cash-minting apps.
But Google has struggled to extend Android’s dominance into other areas over the last four years, technology and financial analysts said.
In each category, Google’s Android system posted less market share last year than manufacturer-customized Android variants, which are less fruitful for Google because they typically are not pre-loaded or compatible with its apps.
Android variants thrive in China, where Google does not operate.
Google also has been slowed by resistance from carmakers to hand over a key interface, smartwatches from consumer electronics brands that failed to attract mass appeal and TV software that manufacturers found too rigid, analysts said.
Google officials said the spinoffs have momentum. Activations of Wear OS devices rose 70 percent late last year compared to the year-earlier period. Android TV activations doubled last year compared to the year before, while vehicles with Android embedded should arrive next year, company officials told Reuters.
South Asia and Latin America are bright spots, they said. Android TV had “tremendous traction over the last year” from Asian cable and satellite operators seeking it for set-top boxes, said Google product management director Shalini Govil-Pai.